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Ghent may be modest in size compared to its big sisters, Brussels and Antwerp, but the nightlife scene here is second to none. Culture Trip’s pick of the best bars takes you from an iconic bruin café (traditional “brown” pub) and a Dutch gin dive to sizzling jazz enclaves and on-trend apero spots.
Given its large student population, Ghent has a reputation for its youthful, rambunctious nightlife scene. Clubs are particularly concentrated on Overpoort Street, a bar-strewn strip dedicated to all manner of student shindigs. But beyond the bustle of these student joints, the city also caters to other revellers, with a full spectrum of drinking spots on offer. “Ghent always has been a bit more left-field and stubborn than other Belgian cities,” says Jules Gahide, owner of Ghent’s Amigo venue. “A lot of different influences and mixtures of people create a pleasant and laid-back vibe.” Ghent-based writer Chanun Poomsawai has picked the best bars for a night out in Ghent.
Opened in 2018 near the shopping complex Dok Noord, Amigo is the latest project by the same dream team behind the sorely missed venues Kerk, Nest and Bar Wilson. The venue describes itself as a spot for “amigos, bar, coffee, disco and everything in between,” and that’s exactly what you’re getting across its two floors, which are decked out in warm, earthy tones. Here, hungry crowds convene on the ground floor for Mexican and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes and creative cocktails, while rug-cutters rendezvous in the basement for weekly parties showcasing emerging DJs.
Housed in Ghent’s former post office building in the heart of Korenmarkt, Zannier Hotels 1898 The Post enjoys a gorgeous setting overlooking the picturesque Graslei framed by the city’s Gothic skyline. And even if you’re staying elsewhere, you can still take advantage of the location from its bar, The Cobbler. Mind you, the bar is an attraction in itself, flaunting dapper decor complete with the building’s original wooden floor, fireplace and stylish sofa. As for the drinks, craft cocktails are where it’s at, so make sure to sample their signature creations, such as Dirty Secrets, which combines Szechuan pepper and aged soy sauce to spectacular effect. A selection of bar nibbles, while on the smaller side, showcases top-shelf Ghent specialties including Het Hinkelpel cheeses and Tierenteyn mustard.
Opened in 2018, André has its attention fixed on the magical “apero time”, or after-work drinks, satisfying Ghent’s unfading aperobar (aperitif bar) craze. Inside, owners Ann Clopterop and Andreas Dhont bring a slice of tropical jungle to their cosy bar, highlighting the fusion between urbanity and wilderness through plants, forest-green tiles and wooden furniture. Kick off the evening with a shot of limoncello and, if you’re feeling peckish, a side of croquettes (both made in house). And like most spots along the Oudburg strip, the bar also comes with a lovely view of the Leie River – granted that you’re quick enough to grab a seat by the window.
This article is an updated version of a story originally created by Nana Van De Poel.